North Yorkshire Police leads awareness-raising day as raptor persecution crimes soar during lockdown

Further to today’s news that reported raptor persecution crimes have surged during lockdown (see here), North Yorkshire Police has issued the following press release:

North Yorkshire Police leads online day of action to raise awareness of raptor persecution

Worrying signs that incidents of birds of prey being killed or injured could be on the rise

North Yorkshire Police is joining with other police forces across the country today (15 May) in a virtual ‘Operation Owl’ day of action to highlight bird of prey persecution as numbers of reported incidents show no signs of slowing down.

[A shot buzzard, photo via North Yorkshire Police]

Launched in February 2018, Operation Owl is a joint initiative by North Yorkshire Police, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA), together with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks and the Nidderdale AONB. The initiative set out to raise awareness of raptor persecution, encouraging the public to be vigilant for signs of this criminal activity, and to report suspicious activity to the police.

In June last year, Operation Owl was rolled out nationally and the first awareness weekend was held in September 2019 with 26 police forces taking part across the whole of the UK. A second national weekend of action was planned for April 2020 with 36 police forces asking to be involved. But that sadly had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Nick Lyall, Chair of the England and Wales Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) said:

We’ve heard from various police forces across the country that they have seen no let-up in incidents of raptor persecution being reported and some areas have seen a significant rise in the past few weeks which is very worrying.

Whilst it is not possible to hold a weekend of action at this time, we wanted to use social media and online channels to raise awareness of bird of prey persecution and to take a stand against this unacceptable crime.

The three vital pieces of information we want to make everyone aware of are ‘Recognise, Record and Report’ – how to recognise bird of prey persecution, how to record it and how to report it. If you notice anything suspicious, like a dead or injured bird of prey, or a suspicious trap, call the police on 101. Take pictures on your phone, and remember please do not interfere with what could be a crime scene or a lawfully placed trap.

Please share our messages with your networks online and please be vigilant for signs of raptor persecution when you are out and about taking your daily exercise. Everyone has a part to play in helping put an end to this relentless persecution.”


6 thoughts on “North Yorkshire Police leads awareness-raising day as raptor persecution crimes soar during lockdown”

  1. Good PR and useful if it gets widely into the media.
    However, only covert surveillance allowed by law will worry the criminal shoot owners / managers and their slaves the keepers, particularly when they start to see prosecutions.

    Keep up the pressure !

  2. I would like to see the police making unannounced visits to the estates looking for illegal poisons and traps. We desperately need a means of identifying individual shotgun pellets or batches thereof: almost impossible I know but hopefully at some point in the future technology will make it possible. At the moment they can just get away with this because it is so difficult to catch them in the act and virtually impossible to make charges stick.

    1. It’s high time the available law was actually implemented by judges (preferably ones with no links to shooting estates). I wonder how often vicarious liability has been applied to estate owners etc? I suspect never for whatever reason. Also funny that dashcam evidence can be used to prosecute road traffic offenders but similar recordings are thrown out when prosecuting gamekeepers.

      1. The main answer to your question about the “dashcam anomally” is that those road traffic offences are committed on the public highway – the wildlife offences are being committed on private land. We still live in a country where landownership supersedes public concern and public outrage…as far as the Law is concerned.

  3. Are we surprised that there has been a surge in raptor persecution ? The landowners own just about everything including the law. Personally I believe the only way forward is to either buy or confiscate these estates.

  4. These perpetrators have to be held accountable, throw their butts in goal with animal lovers..🤬

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